No columnist is obliged to riff on the death of Charles Manson, surely the most despised and deplored murderer and arch-criminal of the last 50 years, and probably the last century. A basic instinct is telling me that the less said, the better. Manson’s brief demonic spree in 1969 made his last name into a kind of demonic brand, in successive decades used partly for ironic comedy. Manson Family Vacation (which I quite liked by the way). “Manson!”, the Lassie-like skit from the early ’90s Ben Stiller Show. Marilyn Manson. Not to mention Quentin Tarantino‘s “not Manson” movie, a non-comedy that will begin shooting in June.
Nobody has to ruminate on this monster or ponder his legend. Or poke a stick at it like a burnt-out fire. The best way to absorb the reality is via Karina Longworth‘s “You Must Remember This” podcast, which goes on, as I recall, for two or three episodes. For me the definitive Manson read is still Ed Sanders‘ “The Family,” with Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry‘s “Helter Skelter” running a close second.